Marina Coast Moves to Annex Cemex Property—The Same Site Cal Am Wants for Desal
June 12, 2012
The timing could be purely incidental, but when the Marina Coast Water District board acted Tuesday night on a 1996 agreement regarding a coastal parcel currently owned by CEMEX, they raised eyebrows in the water watchdog world.
The board voted 4-1 (with Jan Shriner dissenting) to proceed with environmental analysis pertaining to annexing the Cemex property.
It's the same property Cal Am—Marina Coast's erstwhile partner in the flailing Regional Project—is eying for its new, go-it-alone water supply proposal (designed for north Marina, are area of which is pictured above).
The abandoned Regional Project appears to have received what could be an official death knell, with a proposed decision by Administrative Law Judge Gary Weatherford released Tuesday. It's not final unless the Public Utilities Commission okays it, but Weatherford's recommendation is to let Cal Am take the lead for its new proposal.
"It is unfortunate that Cal Am withdrew its support for the Regional Desalination Project, but given the various events that have overtaken the decisions we reached in December 2010, we see no alternative but to move forward with the new application," Weatherford wrote.
Cal Am's new proposal includes a test well then slant wells to be constructed on Cemex property, which recently led to a brief legal tiff when Cal Am threatened the construction materials and sand mining company with eminent domain to let surveyors access the property for purposes of environmental review.
Marina Coast's four-page analysis of moving forward with the annexation process says it's an action predicated on a 1996 agreement with the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, the city of Marina and the water district to solve the seawater intrusion problem at the Cemex and Armstrong Ranch sites.
Any annexation would have to be approved by the Monterey County Local Agency Formation Commission board.
And LAFCO Executive Director Kate McKenna says a few key steps have to take place before the board could even consider an annexation. "The Cemex property is currently outside the sphere of influence of [Marina Coast]," she says, so the sphere of influence would have to change as well.
In addition, LAFCO's 2007 municipal services review of Marina Coast is out of date and needs updating. That will help provide the basis for understanding the water district's service area and growth plans and capacity, which McKenna will use in making a policy-based recommendation on the annexation.
"At this point we don’t really understand what MCWD’s aim is in taking this action," says Cal Am spokeswoman Catherine Bowie. "Certainly the timing is interesting."
Marina Coast's report doesn't elucidate why they're interested in proceeding with the annexation, based on a 16-year-old agreement, and why now. General Manager Jim Heitzman did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday.
The 1996 agreement would allow Armstrong Ranch and the Cemex property to become part of the Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project and draw water from the Salinas Valley basin—if annexed. Marina Coast has taken no formal steps to take toward annexing Armstrong Ranch.
McKenna met with Marina Coast staffers last week, and says they couldn't furnish details on why they're pursuing the annexation.
"We have requested information and will be doing a policy analysis once we learn more about the purpose of the project and the nature of it," McKenna says.